This Old-School Item from My Grandmother’s Table Is Making a Comeback

published Aug 17, 2023
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When I was growing up, my grandmother always poured sweet tea or lemonade from some kind of pitcher shaped like a bunch of grapes or a giant lemon. You might associate these fruit- and vegetable-shaped ceramics with the 1970s, but their origin actually dates back even further. In the early 1500s, a French Renaissance ceramicist, Bernard Palissy, began replicating what he saw in still lifes as 3D works of pottery. The practice became so well-known that it was referred to as Palissy Ware and widely reproduced as visual art. 

The trend experienced a revival over 250 years later in France and Portugal, particularly in the town of Caldas da Rainha — well-known today for its world-famous cabbage bowls by 19th-century artist Raphael Bordallo Pinheiro. Today, you’ll find the Portuguese ceramic studio still in operation, producing highly detailed, decorative, and utilitarian works of fruits, vegetables, flora, and fauna. 

Recently, I’ve been seeing decorative fruits and veggies popping up all over interiors in the U.S., too. You may already recognize the widely loved strawberry stools from HomeGoods, for example, but these throwback motifs seem especially popular as serving pieces.

Whether it’s a cabbage plate or carrot-inspired vase, there’s something charming and personal about integrating your favorite foods into your decor (for me, it’s citrus motifs). I rounded up seven food-forward ceramic pitchers and bowls to bring this still life-inspired look into your own home.

1 / 7

This classic cabbage set goes with almost any table setting. The rich, dark green majolica glaze brings out the details of the cabbage leaf, making this an elegant way to serve anything from ice cream to side salads.

2 / 7
was $55.00

This Italian orange pitcher from Chairish can work on any table year-round. It’s only fitting to jazz up your morning OJ with a unique handmade piece like this, no?

3 / 7

I love the texture of the grapes and the mottling of the lemon rind in this one-of-a-kind vintage pitcher set. The glaze colors complement each other well — especially styled together on a bar cart or kitchen shelf — and double as cheerful vessels for anything from water to wine.

4 / 7
Neiman Marcus

This vibrant orange pitcher (or vase!) from Neiman Marcus packs plenty of attention to detail, down to the life-like texture of the orange’s peel. Made in Portugal, it’s fairly compact, measuring 7 inches tall by 5.3 inches wide.

5 / 7
Williams Sonoma

Inspired by the works of Pinheiro, this earthenware watermelon piece resembles real fruit with its vine handle and red interior. Lean into the generous round shape for serving pitchers of lemonade or margaritas.

6 / 7

Bring home this whimsical carrot pitcher from Etsy and convert it into a vase for bouquets of fresh dill and summer wildflowers. It looks just as well-decorated on its own, too, or even as a kitchen utensil holder.

7 / 7
was $112.99

Artichokes are such a dramatically shaped vegetable and instantly draw attention — even in decor form. This lidded sauce bowl can hold seasoned salt or sugar or function as a ladle for melted butter (arguably the best way to eat artichokes — IYKYK).